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In Evidenza: Ultima Pubblicazione
Ion Cyclotron Resonance: Results and Prospects for Psychiatry
Betti M, Picchi MPC, Saettoni M, Greco A
The Ion Cyclotron Resonance-like (ICR-like) phenomenon is a physical model for the ionic currents through cellular membranes obtained by application of very weak, extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF). It was proposed in 1984 by the American physicist Abraham Liboff as a hypothesis to explain the results of the physicists Adey and Blackman in their studies of these currents. Liboff postulated that the ELF-EMF applied in the experiments interacted with the geomagnetic field (GMF), inducing facilitated movement of ion species through cellular membranes and so acting as modulators for the degree of movement of the ions.
As is well known, there is still much to learn about how ELF-EMF interact with living structures. In the current state-of-art the ICR-like phenomenon represents a very valid explanation of this interaction and deserves more in-depth studies into its application in medical fields. Among these psychiatry certainly offers numerous possibilities for the application of ELF-EMF.
In recent decades psychiatric practice has undergone a revolution, shifting its operative focus from the traditional psychiatric hospitals to services dispersed within the community. New medical, social, rehabilitative, and psychotherapeutic treatment methods have been tested. Among these the use of ELF-EMF has been found to offer both great versatility and interesting potential for therapeutic use.
An emblematic example is the so-called "repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation" (rTMS). It was introduced by Anthony Barker (University of Sheffield, UK) in 1985  as a non-invasive instrument to activate the motor cortex, measure its connectivity, excitability, and assess the integrity of the motor pathways. Ever since, its use in neurology, clinical neurophysiology, and psychiatry has been spreading into both research and more strictly clinical applications . In the psychiatric field it has been successfully applied for various disorders, including for example:
• Treatment-resistant depression
• Depression associated with metabolic disorders
• Depression in which drugs have to be avoided (hepatic or renal insufficiency, etc.)
• Seasonal affective disorder
• Negative symptoms
• Auditory hallucinations
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
This and other examples of the application of ELF-EMF led the present authors to hypothesize that ICR-like might not only be a valid approach to psychiatric diseases, but also a good starting point to describe how ELF-EMF generate positive effects in these pathologies, and so cast new light on the physiology and psychopathology of the mind.
This article presents the results of a naturalistic observational study to assess the effectiveness of this methodology in the treatment of psychopathological disorders.
The main aim was to confirm the positive results obtained in a previous study, increasing the size of the sample set and observing the results for a restricted group of subjects with more homogenous symptoms and ambient conditions of treatment.
A further aim was to discriminate response to the treatment on the basis of severity of symptoms, and thus its respective impact on the functional and organic psychopathogenic components.
A sample set of 46 patients of the Adult Functional Mental Health Unit of Valle del Serchio (ASL 2 Lucca, Italy) were studied. They were treated with an experimental therapy using low intensity, extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF). The results were assessed on the basis of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) conducted before, during and after treatment.
The results revealed a significant improvement in the clinical picture, achieved in particular during the initial period of treatment. Treatment appears to be more effective on patients characterized by a very serious clinical presentation.
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